Lordosis, kyphosis, and scoliosis

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Lordosis, kyphosis, and scoliosis



Lordosis, kyphosis, and scoliosis


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Lordosis, kyphosis, and scoliosis

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A 16-year-old girl presents to the pediatrician for evaluation of back pain. The patient has had ongoing back pain for the past year. In addition, she was noted to have abnormal curvature of the spine during a physical exam at school. She is otherwise healthy and does not take any medications. Physical examination and radiography demonstrate the findings below. The Cobb angle is found to be 35 degrees. What is the next best step in the management of this patient’s condition?

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Kyphosis p. 83


Lordosis, kyphosis, and scoliosis refer to curvatures of the spine.

Lordosis refers to the normal inward curvatures of the spine at the cervical and lumbar regions, while kyphosis refers to the normal outward curvature of the spine specifically at the thoracic region.

These terms get used interchangeably with hyperlordosis and hyperkyphosis, which means that the curves look abnormally pronounced.

Finally there’s scoliosis which always refers to the abnormal sideways curves of the spine.

Now, the bony spine is made of vertebral bones, and there are intervertebral discs that sit between adjacent vertebrae.

The spine is made of 33 vertebrae, which can be divided into 5 regions.

The cervical region has 7 vertebrae, the thoracic region has 12 vertebrae, the lumbar region has 5 vertebrae, the sacral region has 5 vertebrae, and the small tail-like coccygeal region is made up of 4 fused vertebrae.

Normally, the cervical and the lumbar spines slightly curve inward.

This results from the fact that the intervertebral discs in these two regions are thicker anteriorly than posteriorly, which causes this part of the spine to lean forward.

On the other hand, the thoracic and the sacral spines are normally curved backward, which is normal kyphosis.

Lordosis and kyphosis are typically associated with underlying conditions.

For example, in osteoporosis the bones become porous and weak, and can develop compression fractures causing the bones to collapse a bit.


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  3. "Pathophysiology of Disease: An Introduction to Clinical Medicine 8E" McGraw-Hill Education / Medical (2018)
  4. "CURRENT Medical Diagnosis and Treatment 2020" McGraw Hill Professional (2019)
  5. "Back and Abdominals" Deep Tissue Massage Treatment (2013)
  6. "Thoracic kyphosis: range in normal subjects" American Journal of Roentgenology (1980)
  7. "Effectiveness of scoliosis-specific exercises for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis compared with other non-surgical interventions: a systematic review and meta-analysis" Physiotherapy (2019)

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